Recipe for Switchel or Haymaker's Punch - (2024)

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This nutrient packed drink is perfect for hot summer days of hard work or play. Here’s my favorite recipe for switchel, otherwise known as haymaker’s punch.

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The Story

Many years ago I went to school for Sustainable Food Production. It was a one year course in small scale farming at a community college in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

I was fresh out of my four year degree and I imagine my family thought I was a little crazy to be going back to school immediately. But, I knew my life’s passion was farming and agriculture and this little diploma program seemed like the ticket I needed to learn the kind of farming I wanted to do.

Crappy Post College Jobs

I moved to Fergus Falls and set about finding a job to pay the rent on my studio apartment, the first palce I ever lived on my own.

Unfortunately Fergus didn’t have much to offer in the way of good employment opportunities so I found myself working as a housekeeper and banquet server at a chain hotel.

The pay was lousy and housekeeping is a horrendous job. I could do a whole post on things you should do to make a housekeeper’s life easier, but that’s a whole other story. In short, pick up after yourself and return your room service tray to the front desk like a decent human being.

ANYWAY.

When I was a housekeeper there was a ton of turnover in fellow housekeepers and the head housekeeper position.

One of the head housekeepers, MaryAnn, was a lovely woman who I liked very much. She once came to check on my progress where I had the TV on HBO and I was listening to a documentary about George Harrison. She sat on the bed and gabbed with me about his music. We talked about other things, farm life and from-scratch recipes.

This recipe for switchel comes from her. The recipe card says that she had gotten it from a waiter. Who the waiter was or where they worked I don’t know, but I’ve kept and used this recipe for almost a decade.

Recipe for Switchel or Haymaker's Punch - (1)

What is Switchel?

Switchel is a drink that contains vinegar, a natural sweetener, ginger, and water. It has a taste that is almost like a gingery iced tea. If made with club soda it tastes more like a homemade ginger ale.

This beverage is also called “Haymaker’s Punch” because it was often made around haying time in the 19th century.

If you’ve ever put up hay before, especially small square bales, you know it is hot and laborious work. Switchel is basically old fashioned Gatorade, packed with potassium and electrolites.

According to Almanac, a large punch bowl of Switchel (liberally spike with Jamaican rum) was kept on the floor of the U.S. Senate in the early 1800s. They don’t do things like they used to, that’s for sure.

Where Does Switchel Come From?

According to Smithsonian Magazine the origins of Switchel are not quite known. Possible origins are from the West Indies, Amish communities, or further back even still. It is somewhat similar to an oxymel, where honey is mixed with ingredients to make a healthful syrup.

Not in the mood to try this recipe for Switchel? An even simpler, refreshing summer drink is Sun Tea!

Or make your switchel with your own homemade apple cider vinegar!

Supplies and Ingredients for Switchel

Since Switchel is a drink of the working class it doesn’t call for any fancy ingredients or supplies to make it.

Supplies

  • 2 Cup Glass Measuring Cup
  • Whisk
  • Half Gallon Mason Jar or Pitcher
  • Teaspoon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  • 1/2 Cup Honey
  • 2 Scant Teaspoons Ground ginger
  • 2 Quarts cold water, or club soda
  • 1/2 Cup Oatmeal (optional)
  • Lemons (optional)
Recipe for Switchel or Haymaker's Punch - (2)

How to Make Switchel

Using a two cup liquid measuring spoon, add the apple cider vinegar, molasses, honey, and ginger.

Whisk these together until combined and the ginger dissolved.

Recipe for Switchel or Haymaker's Punch - (3)

Pour this into a half gallon mason jar or pitcher.

If you’d like to use lemons, wash, slice, and seed one lemon. Add this to the mason jar.

If you want to drink this with club soda and you are serving a large crowd, add two quarts of club soda to the mixture and stir gently, serve over ice.

If you don’t want a fizzy version, pour in two cups of cold water and stir until well combined. Serve over ice. Even better if you make it the day before you’ll need it.

Recipe for Switchel or Haymaker's Punch - (4)

Another option is to make the vinegar, molasses, honey, and ginger mixture along with the lemons, and keep it in the fridge. Then as you want a glass here or there, you can make individual servings.

A final option is to add a half cup of oats to the completed recipe. They will sink to the bottom after a few minutes.

Recipe for Switchel or Haymaker's Punch - (5)

My favorite Way to Drink Haymaker’s Punch

This is a base recipe that you ban play with however you like.

Personally, I tend to add a little less honey and a little more vinegar. I definitely prefer it with lemons, and club soda is definitely better than still water, although no less refreshing.

Does your family have a recipe for switchel? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Recipe for Switchel or Haymaker's Punch - (6)

Switchel (Haymaker’s Punch)

Print Recipe

Equipment

  • 2 Cup Glass Measuring Cup

  • Whisk

  • Half Gallon Mason Jar or Pitcher

  • Teaspoon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  • 1/2 Cup Honey
  • 2 Scant Teaspoons Ground ginger
  • 2 Quarts cold water or club soda
  • 1/2 Cup Oatmeal optional
  • Lemons optional

Instructions

  • Using a two cup liquid measuring spoon, add the apple cider vinegar, molasses, honey, and ginger.

  • Whisk these together until combined and the ginger dissolved.

  • Pour this into a half gallon mason jar or pitcher.

  • If you’d like to use lemons, wash, slice, and seed one lemon. Add this to the mason jar.

  • If you want to drink this with club soda and you are serving a large crowd, add two quarts of club soda to the mixture and stir gently, serve over ice.

  • If you don’t want a fizzy version, pour in two cups of cold water and stir until well combined. Serve over ice. Even better if you make it the day before you’ll need it.

  • Another option is to make the vinegar, molasses, honey, and ginger mixture along with the lemons, and keep it in the fridge. Then as you want a glass here or there, you can make individual servings.

  • A final option is to add a half cup of oats to the completed recipe. They will sink to the bottom after a few minutes.

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Recipe for Switchel or Haymaker's Punch - (2024)

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